Volume 18, Issue 1: Pooh's Think
Grace at the Table
As our Lord was fond of pointing out, His Father's wisdom can be seen in quotidian creation. Birds frolicking through the heavens and lilies humbly showing forth their splendor confute unbelieving worldly wisdom. The cold
heart of unbelief reads Psalm 23 and is somehow not stirred to find a patch of lush Kentucky bluegrass to roll in and feel God's soothing, cool comfort. Likewise, parents, pastors, and presbyters read "Except ye be converted,
and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" and find unbelieving ways to deny God's creational wisdom in the everyday lives of their covenant children. Shame on us, I say: For not coveting the
believing heart of a child; for not rejoicing in the wisdom of the mundane; for not incarnationally pondering the poetic like a boy loves bugs.
Our daughter, now approaching three, has been a constant source of godly wisdom. (Of course, this is not to subtract from the sinful foolishness bound up in her heart.) When she sins, she immediately demands to pray to
the Father for forgiveness in Jesus, who died for
her. The separation sin brings from her family body and from God ruins the short pleasures of childish disobedience. But whether tearfully repenting of sin or delighting in the Lord
with her God-given faith, sherightly named Gracehas been a treasure house of believing, saintly wisdom for her parents. As each day runs its course, sunrises and sunsets find her heart bursting forth in psalms, hymns, and
spiritual songseither in family worship or while alone upon her bed. Sudden, unfettered joy in the daytime is reason to dance more earnestly than David in all his might before the ark. And the Sabbath, that chief day of every happy
day, stands pre-eminently at the beginning of her week. It is
the day that defines every other day: It is the constant reoccurring appointment on her simple calendar; as she sees it, it is the day all of God's people join together as one
body to worship the King.
But who is this King? In Grace's mind, He is the One who rules over every exotic creature in her books, destroys the wicked and upholds the righteous in every Bible story (one of her favorites being David cutting
Goliath's head off), and makes every blade of grass bow in our front yard with His breath. He does all His holy will and sees all things, though we see Him not. He is also the One who made her, baptized her into His Church, hates all
sin, and gave Himself to purchase and cleanse His Church. Through baptism and because of
what God said in her baptism, she believes and knows she belongs to God's people. As we gather around our dinner table during the
week (and especially on the Sabbath), we give special treats to our daughter: a small amount of wine, a candy, ice cream, etc. We try to teach her that these treats are given in the name of the King, for His rule is sweet and a delight.
She, because it is so special, often saves her treat following dinner, if possible. Hours later, we find a small hand stained by the color of the candy and a big contemplative smile as she finally enjoys her treat. Her King's treats are
special and she has perfected the art of savoring, say, one jelly bean for hours. But what would you expect from someone who cannot walk two steps outside without pondering the Lord's handiwork in a flower or stick on the ground?
A few months after her first birthday, Grace began noticing the Lord's Supper being passed before her in church each week. Her first reaction, like any sinner, was to greedily grab for the bread and wine without reference
to the Word. After roughly a month of instruction, however, she began to refrain from grabbing the bread and wine. In the weeks following she began to announce the meaning of the Supper to us and often those within
earshot: "Jesus died on the Cross for me. His body was broken for me. His blood was spilled for me." Not empty words, she experientially knew what it meant to be bruised, scraped, cut and to bleed. She knew what it means to sin.
But more troubling than her prior greedy grabbing, Grace now began to ask why she was not receiving the bread and wine if it belonged to God's people. She would look up at us, with her pretty eyes of faith and plead, "For
me, for Grace?" Our hearts sank and we nearly burst into tears each week as we answered "Yes, sweetheart, for you" and hurriedly and hypocritically passed the tray without letting her partake. She was more discerning of the body
and more full of faith than we. As Grace approached the age of two, we began letting her hold her mother's bread and wine. Never attempting to put the bread in her mouth or sip from the cup, she seemed more content though
the questions continued: "For me? Please,
daddy?" Every week we repented as we took the Supper; every week our heart broke for the unbelief we were silently teaching her.
Finally, at the age of two and a half, she began coming to the Table. Prior to this time, we had technically been members of a denomination that did not practice paedocommun-ion (though we were attending a local,
practicing paedocommunion church), and thus we could not allow our daughter to partake in the Supper. Now, however, rejoicing in the ability to commune with our daughter, we looked anxiously to Grace's first visit to the Lord's
Table. As the bread was passed, I smiled at how excited she had been during the week as we told her that she was going to partake of the Supper on Sunday. In hand for her,
the precious bread was coddled and admired by Grace.
With the phrase "for you" spoken by the pastor, I ate the bread and motioned for Grace to do the same. Grace remained motionless. "Grace," I whispered, "it's for you. Eat the bread, sweetheart." Still no response. After a bit
more coaxing and explaining, she ate the bread with a big smile. The wine, now being passed, she took and drank at the appropriate time without any prompting.
My wife knew exactly what our daughter had been doing, though I had been slow to catch on. Grace had been treasuring this tiny piece of bread like she had treasured other treats given in the King's name. She was so
delighting in the fact of it being for her that she would have held on to it for hours if I had not reminded her of what she already knew: The Lord's Supper is to be enjoyed by all of God's people as one body. A gracious lesson, I say,
for Grace and her father to be reminded of, and a tremendous blessing for her parents to see how their daughter's everyday delight in her heavenly Father affects her coming to the Table. Likewise, since coming to the Table,
Grace has delighted even more in the quotidian of Her Father's creation: More songs, more smiles, more thankfulness from an already joyous heart, a more earnest confession that Christ has died to forgive her sins, and a
constant excitement for the Sabbath and all its delights.
"I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,and hast revealed them unto babes " (Matt. 11:25).
Jeff Evans is the minister at Christ Church of Livingston County (CREC) in Howell, Michigan.